One of the things that makes sexual addictions difficult to treat is the way that many people in our society seem to lump different disorders under the same phrase: sexual addiction. There are many different types of sexual addictions that can affect an individual, and it’s important to understand the differences between different disorders if you hope to be successful in treating them.
Two of the most commonly confused disorders are sex addiction and love addiction. They may occasionally come hand-in-hand, but it’s important to recognize that these are two very different disorders, with different triggers, that develop because of different situations. If you want to treat them, it’s vital that you recognize what the differences between them are.
So what’s the difference?
So then, what are the differences between sexual addictions and love addictions? Many people see only one disorder, characterized by large amounts of unhealthy sexual activity. This is usually a factor in both cases, but the real understanding of these disorders runs way deeper.
Sexual addictions are characterized by the pure, physical lusting sensation of sexual activity. People who suffer from sexual addictions often suffer from some of the following:
- Chronic or excessive masturbation or sexual intercourse, despite negative consequences arising, which could include damage to the genitals
- An inability to form real sexual or emotional relationships as a result of your uncontrolled sexual behavior
- A serious preoccupation with your sexual behavior that interferes with everyday activity
- A consistent need to increase the rate and intensity of these sexual activities, otherwise the pleasure from partaking in the same activity will become less satisfying (kind of like a tolerance issue arising from a drug addiction)
- Intense anxiety, depression, discomfort or anger if these sexual desires are not met
While many of the physical symptoms of these two conditions can seem similar, the underlying preoccupations are quite different. Love addicts are more likely to experience the following:
- Having difficulty staying away from relationships that you know are toxic or unhealthy for you, or that are bound to fail
- Getting something like a buzz from romance, or fantasy ideas of romance
- Using a relationship with a partner as a way to avoid coping with reality or with your feelings
- Feeling a sense of loneliness, desperation, depression or anxiety if you don’t have a partner
It’s true that both of these disorders can be considered intimacy disorders, because they negatively affect the way a person responds to close activity with another person, be it socially, emotionally, or sometimes just superficially, like the connections some people have during intense conversations.
These disorders both focus on the preoccupation with the sexual activity instead of the personal interaction itself. In that way, sexual activity is almost always unsatisfying, leading the person with the addiction to seek out similar, more intense experiences as they continue feeding the addiction.
Both of these disorders are characterized by people who are unable to connect with others on a serious personal level.
Finally, both conditions usually arise out of some sort of past abuse or mistreatment, usually at the hands of a family member or someone that the addict is close to. These abuses can lead to feelings of shame, which the addict then tries to cover up or numb through repeated sexual activity. Unfortunately, this uncontrolled sexual activity tends to cause more shame to arise, leading to a vicious cycle.
Treating these addictions
Fortunately, both of these addictions can be treated by a sex or love addiction coach. If you’re unsure of which disorder you have, a coach can probably help you identify whether you have one or the other, or if you have both.
The most difficult part of treating a problem is admitting that you actually have a problem. After you’ve admitted that something’s not quite right in your life, then you can work with a coach to begin treating the problem.
Call my office today at (805) 644-0461 and let’s schedule an appointment to begin moving toward healing.